Aren’t we Latinos also Americans, Mr. President?
The publication of the measures of retention, denial, and cancellation of passports to citizens of Latino origin born on the border with Mexico shows the inability of the Trump administration to recognize Hispanics as nationals with rights.
Let’s check our memory: the Trump campaign launched with statements that qualified Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug traffickers, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was suspended just months after the inauguration of the president, more than 3,000 immigrant children have been separated from their families (and some of their parents have been deported), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has started persecuting legal citizens by threatening to take away their citizenship.
You don’t have to be a quantum physicist to understand that this government has declared war on immigration, documented or not.
In the same place where Donald Trump has promised to build a wall, where his administration has separated thousands of families and where the National Guard was sent to reduce undocumented immigration, the administration has now started confiscating the passports of U.S. citizens.
According to the Washington Post, “a growing number of people whose official birth records show they were born in the United States” are being denied passports, and their citizenship is being “suddenly questioned.”
“The Trump Administration is accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Hispanics along the border of using fraudulent birth certificates since they were babies,” according to the report.
Although the government has declared that it has not changed the procedures of passport adjudication, it has admitted that “the U.S.-Mexico border region happens to be an area of the country where there has been a significant incidence of citizenship fraud.”
The Post has reported cases of passport applicants who have been detained in immigrant centers whose deportation proceedings have begun, as well as others who are stuck in Mexico without the possibility of re-entering the country.
“As the Trump Administration attempts to reduce both legal and illegal immigration, the government’s treatment of passport applicants in South Texas shows how U.S. citizens are increasingly being swept up by immigration enforcement agencies,” the report said.
This new strategy is argued under the existence of multiple cases of documentation fraud between the 1950s and 1990s by midwives and gynecologists who “provided U.S. birth certificates to babies who were actually born in Mexico.”
Previous administrations, such as those of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, resorted to similar mechanisms when denying passports to people who were suspected of having fraudulent certificates. The difference now is that the Trump government has not only increased the frequency of denied documents, but has also proceeded to revoke them, requesting additional documentation in some cases and, in others, denying them completely.
The denial of a passport, says columnist Eugene Robinson, effectively “renders the victims stateless,” implying that these people “cannot travel outside the country, because they will not be readmitted, and are potentially vulnerable to being deported.”
“Again, these are people who have government-issued birth certificates, long accepted as gold-standard proof of citizenship,” Robinson explains. “The Trump Administration simply doesn’t see Latinos as full-fledged Americans.”